Jupiter and its Red Spots

 Jupiter, Planets  Comments Off on Jupiter and its Red Spots
Dec 062012

Another clear, frosty night here on the South Coast of England. The seeing conditions were quite stable again and I took these 3 images of the Great Red Spot and also ‘Red Spot Jr’ crossing the disc.

This one is the middle of the 3 images, all three are available via the thumbnails below.

 Posted by at 12:02 pm

Jupiter Near Opposition

 General Astronomy, Jupiter, Planets  Comments Off on Jupiter Near Opposition
Dec 052012

Jupiter reached Opposition at about 1am UT on the morning of 3rd December 2012. Here are two images of different aspects of the planet. The one with the GRS was taken on the night of the 3rd and the second image taken on the 4th, with slightly better seeing conditions.

Opposition means that the Sun, the Earth and Jupiter are in a line. The Sun is therefore shining directly on to the face of Jupiter as we look at it. It also means it is closest to us and hence the disc is the largest it gets in this apparition.


 Posted by at 1:00 pm

Jupiter – A case of the blues!

 Jupiter, Planets  Comments Off on Jupiter – A case of the blues!
Oct 152012

There’s a moral here somewhere.I went out this morning under a crystal clear sky; Jupiter blazing away in the South-East. With collimation complete and a quick butchers through the eyepiece, I got the planet squarely on the chip of the Flea3. Just finishing the run of green images when clouds rolled in, so I too about 500 frames of a very dim blue. Anyway, no more clear sky (until later when I got clouded out before any images could be captured), I decided to process the blue and hey-presto a decent RGB image!

 Posted by at 10:11 am
Sep 192012

A wonderful morning! Went out at 4am BST to be greeted by an incredible dark and starry sky. Jupiter and Venus both blazing in the East. Jupiter gets to just over 60 degrees in altitude from here in the UK this apparition, making for decent imaging if the seeing is good. Well the seeing was good this morning! This shot was the last of several runs, and has the Great Red Spot (GRS) just past the meridian. As always click on the image to see it full-size.


It was so nice – cuppa in hand and Jupiter rock steady on the screen. A glorious sight through the eyepiece too! Note ‘Red Spot Junior’ just to the South of the GRS. Lots going on too in both the NEB and the SEB.

This image was constructed out of 9, 60 second captures at about 64 frames per second. The sequence of colour filters was RRGGGGGBB.These were ‘de-rotated’ and combined into an RGB using WinJUPOS. This process prevents the features smearing out due to the rotation of Jupiter.

 Posted by at 10:12 am
Sep 152012

Hi all,

Here is my first attempt at a Jupiter image from his morning. As it turned out, it was a bit of a luxury as the seeing conditions and transparency were excellent.

One reason for my long period of astronomical quietness was that I was waiting for the RA motor and encoder on my ancient AP900 mount to be repaired by AstroPhysics in the US. Wonderful service as usual from AP, but it got held up in UK Customs for ages!


 Posted by at 9:33 am

Olympus Mons pokes out through the clouds

 Mars, Planets  Comments Off on Olympus Mons pokes out through the clouds
Apr 232012

Here is another image of Mars taken on Saturday night. Mars is receeding rapidly and will soon be under 10″ (10 arc-seconds) in diameter. Consider that the moon is about 30 arc-minutes across which is 1800 arc-seconds, meaning that the current disc of Mars would fit across the Moon 180 times!

All the more amazing that we amateurs can capture things like Volcanoes on Mars. Admittedly a big one! Olympus Mons (which was known as Nix Olympica) is the tallest known volcano in the Solar System. It stands about 21km high – that’s 3 times higher than Everest! In this image it stands out dark as it juts out from the cloud (just right of centre).

 Posted by at 4:06 pm
Apr 052012

A glorious sight in my 75mm APO refractor telescope last night. The night of April 3rd was cloudy when Venus was nicely in the main cluster, but I was still able to get both Venus and the Pleiades in the same field of view last night.

Venus is massively over-exposed here, but I like the effect of the burn-out and spikes it causes. You can just see the faint nebulosity around the main stars in the Pleiades. This image is the result of stacking 20 exposures each of 20 seconds using my ATIK 383L CCD camera and a white luminance filter – through the Pentax 75 APO.

 Posted by at 7:18 am

Mars – The difference good seeing makes

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Mar 292012

Last night’s Mars image, shown here, illustrates the effect of ‘seeing’ conditions. The seeing was fairly good and stable last night – compare this image to the post, here,  from the previous night when the seeing conditions were not so good.


 Posted by at 8:25 am

Mars – Syrtis Major hoves into view

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Mar 282012

Another Mars image taken last night from here in Ham.

The biggest and most obvious dark region called Syrtis Major is visible on the left in this image. It’s interesting that the Martian ‘day’ is about 24 hours and 40 minutes (in other words the time Mars takes to rotate once on its axis). This means that, for Earth-bound observers, we only see about 40 minutes of ‘new’ territory each night if we observe at the same time. So, Syrtis Major will slowly crawl into full view over the next few days (for UK observers at least).

A nice view also of the snake-like feature called Sinus Sabaeus with the ‘head’ part called Sinus Meridiani.

The seeing conditions were pretty jittery last night, so again this image is quite soft on detail. Not so many clouds visible either.

 Posted by at 9:50 am